FTC DEFENDS DECISION IN ELI LILLY E-MAIL CASE

No Fines for Drug Maker for Alleged Consumer Privacy Violations

By Published on .

WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- The Federal Trade Commission today is defending the light penalty it assessed against Eli Lilly & Co. after the drug maker settled charges of violating consumer privacy.

The FTC had accused the drug maker of violating privacy policies it made to consumers to get them to subscribe to its e-mail service. Eli Lilly last year sent out an e-mail to 669 users of its antidepressant Prozac that included the e-mail addresses of others on the mailing list.

Eli Lilly settled

Related Stories:
FTC MERGER OVERSIGHT PLAN SKUTTLED AFTER PROTEST
Proposal Would Have Ceded Authority to Justice Department
FTC CHAIRMAN CALLS PRIVACY NOTICES 'DREADFUL'
Says Financial Marketers Need More Effective Language
FTC CHAIR NIXES NEW PRIVACY LAWS
Muris Says Better Enforcement of Current Rules Needed
the charges against it by agreeing to better protect the privacy of its consumers. The case is one of the first in which the FTC acted on privacy matters.

The light penalty in the case, in which personal medical information was compromised, had a top FTC official defending the agency's decision today.

Hard to seek fines
"I do think [the decision] sends a message," said J. Howard Beales III, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. Mr. Beales said fines would have been difficult to seek for accidental violations.

Mr. Beales also said that the names of those on the list were never published, and he suggested that the impact of the violation wasn't great because only others on the list got the information and that all they received was e-mail addresses.

As part of the settlement, Eli Lilly, which has since dropped the e-mail service, has to designate people to coordinate privacy programs and conduct an annual review of its privacy measures.

In this article:
Most Popular